July 28, 2021 

How Bella Alarie continues to grow

Her second season has provided vital development

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PALMETTO, FL- JULY 31: Bella Alaire #32 of the Dallas Wings fights for position against the Indiana Fever on July 31, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.

In her second season, Bella Alarie is averaging 2.1 points per game and 3.1 rebounds a game. Everything she contributes to the Dallas Wings will not be found on the stat sheet, but is just as important to the team’s success. The former Princeton Tiger is one of the pieces that has helped Dallas become the third-best rebounding team in the league. 

Alarie was an offensive and defensive force coming out of college with her name etched the Princeton Tigers women’s basketball record books. So far in the WNBA she has not yet been able to showcase her offensive abilities. The focus for Alarie since entering the league has been defense. The second-year center told The Next that she prides herself on defense and has learned much more personnel wise since entering the league.

“Since my rookie season, I had a lot to learn especially personnel-wise,” Alarie said in an interview earlier this month. “I watched a lot of these, great centers, but it’s really different playing them. And so I’ve been able to pick up on a lot more tendencies and learn just how to guard people better.”

Head coach Vickie Johnson said Alarie has been making a difference for the the Wings by taking on the tough assignments against the more experienced centers in the league. 

“She’s made a huge difference,” Johnson said. “I think, a year of experience in the W has really helped her to develop her game, especially on the defensive of basketball. She’s still learning on the offensive side, but she’s doing a great job for us defending some of the best players in our league and also rebound the basketball as well, so she’s going to continue to grow.”

Alarie concluded her first year-around of play winning the Spanish league championship with the Perfumerias Avenida club. When WNBA players choose to play overseas they have to learn and adjust under a different coach with a quick turnaround. Alarie has played for three different coaches in one year. She joined Dallas in Los Angeles for the season opener May 14 and was able to contribute immediately logging six minutes. She did not have her first practice with the team until three days later.

“It’s definitely a challenge, when you play for so many different coaches in one year,” Alarie said. “I was fortunate in college, it was kind of a blessing in disguise. My coach left after my junior year, and so for my senior year I was adjusting to a whole new system, and I learned how to do that quickly and effectively.”

The Perfumerias Avenida played Alarie at the five position and she said was able to expand her game and get more comfortable with playing the five. That experience aided her in adjusting to her role in Dallas. While she was playing with her Spanish club, Johnson made sure Alarie and each player arriving late for the season understood what their role would be coming this season.  

“I know my role is definitely to come in and guard the big centers on other teams,” Alarie said. “That’s my responsibility — to get stops, make things difficult for them. I know that’s definitely important to what I do for the team.”

The Wings have been flexing players in and out of the five position since Liz Cambage was traded to the Las Vegas Aces in 2019. Dallas is a deep, young team that is still trying to play into their identity. With Alarie and no. 1 draft pick Charli Collier as the young core at the position, there is a chance for Alarie to become the center the Wings have been missing. With a year under her belt she has a better understanding of what she is supposed to do when she checks into the game.

“Move the ball, set good screens, take shots when I’m open, be confident out there, play the offense and understand, how we’re rotating on both offense and defense,” Alarie said. “Be a spark off the bench and our bench plays really well together. We definitely bring a lot of energy when we go out there so I make sure that I’m adding to that.”

She has shown that she is able to learn, adjust and contribute with a limited amount of time. How she develops with the Wings this season, knowing her role on the team, will be key in setting the course for the rest of her career. 

“I just want to make sure I’m getting 1% better every day, I’m growing every day,” she said. “Adding to my offensive skill set. I feel like that’s something that I still have a lot to prove in the WNBA. And so I want to make sure that with every day I’m getting more confident and I’m just getting the reps in so I can prove that when I’m on court.”

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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